A prayer for Obama

August 31, 2010

I got this message from a particularly close friend, and pass it on for those who find that it resonates.

Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 6:48 PM

To: Frank DeMarco
Subject: for our President

A message came in last night that Obama needs our prayers, not our worries and disappointments.  And that through your network this word can get spread.  And that I’m not the only one getting this message. (So I shouldn’t feel that I’m trying to “make a hole in the ocean” as the Greeks expression for fruitless activity goes.)  We need not judge his capabilities by apparent results, which are anyway better than he gets credit for.   His intentions and abilities are good, the times are terrible, and the opposition intractable and cunning.

As a result of the efficient organizational work of my friend Joanne DiMaggio, I have recently put on a series of three-hour workshops. Here’s her announcement for the latest in line.

Reprogramming Your Robots

With Frank DeMarco

Friday, September 24, 2010

6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Earlysville, VA

$25 per person

When our reactions leave us helplessly in the grip of anger, or fear, or other crippling emotions, clearly we are not in control. But if we aren’t — who is? And, how did they get control? And what can we do about it? This three-hour workshop explains what happens at such times, and why it happens, and teaches how to overcome it.

In certain circumstances we are controlled by automatic reactions that may be considered to be “robots.” These automatic mechanisms are doing exactly what we programmed them to do! But they are unconscious, and do not know when our situation has changed, or our intent has changed, or if they misinterpreted their instructions in the first place. The process of reprogramming robots, which can be quickly learned, disables unproductive behavior and enables us to program new, constructive, behavior. In other words, in one and the same operation, we turn a liability into an asset, with positive results that will have to be experienced to be believed.

Frank has been developing and improving his communication with the other side for more than 20 years. Years of experience, alone and with others, demonstrated to him that such communication is not only easy, but is an inherent human ability and function. “Reprogramming your robots” is one of a series of workshops built on that experience.

Frank, co-founder of Hampton Roads Publishing Company and Chief Editor for 16 years, is also the author of three non-fiction books about his personal psychic experiences: The Sphere and the Hologram: Explanations from the Other Side (2009)Chasing Smallwood: Talking With the Other Side (2009), and Muddy Tracks: Exploring an Unsuspected Reality (2001).

Seating is limited. Pre-registration is required.

Email Joanne DiMaggio at are.cville@gmail.com

It always bemuses me, how often an absolutely accurate analysis of a situation is followed by a laughably simplistic prediction of the “inevitable” outcome. Doesn’t matter how often, or  how recently, history has once again proven to be complex and unpredictable, people peering into their crystal balls consistently make straight-line projections that prove to be fiction — sometimes, nightmares. Apparently the gifts of analysis and of fore-vision are different gifts, and rarely given both to the same person at the same time.

Nonetheless, this is excellent analysis.

The Ecstasy of Empire: How Close Is America’s Demise?

Without a revolution, Americans are history

By Paul Craig Roberts

URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20650

Global Research, August 16, 2010

The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control.  Despite the urgency of the situation, 2010 has been wasted in hype about a non-existent recovery.  As recently as August 2 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner penned a New York Times Column, “Welcome to the Recovery.”

As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear on many occasions, an appearance of recovery was created by over-counting employment and undercounting inflation. Warnings by Williams, Gerald Celente, and myself have gone unheeded, but our warnings recently had echos from Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff and from David Stockman, who excoriated the Republican Party for becoming big spending Democrats.

It is encouraging to see a bit of realization that, this time, Washington cannot spend the economy out of recession. The deficits are already too large for the dollar to survive as reserve currency, and deficit spending cannot put Americans back to work in jobs that have been moved offshore.

However, the solutions offered by those who are beginning to recognize that there is a problem are discouraging. Kotlikoff thinks the solution is massive Social Security and Medicare cuts or massive tax increases or hyperinflation to destroy the massive debts.

Perhaps economists lack imagination, or perhaps they don’t want to be cut off from Wall Street and corporate subsidies, but Social Security and Medicare are insufficient at their present levels, especially considering the erosion of private pensions by the dot com, derivative and real estate bubbles. Cuts in Social Security and Medicare, for which people have paid 15% of their earnings all their life, would result in starvation and deaths from curable diseases.

Tax increases make even less sense. It is widely acknowledged that the majority of households cannot survive on one job. Both husband and wife work and often one of the partners has two jobs in order to make ends meet. Raising taxes makes it harder to make ends meet–thus more foreclosures, more food stamps, more homelessness. What kind of economist or humane person thinks this is a solution?

Ah, but we will tax the rich. The usual idiocy. The rich have enough money. They will simply stop earning.

Let’s get real.  Here is what the government is likely to do.  Once the Washington idiots realize that the dollar is at risk and that they can no longer finance their wars by borrowing abroad, the government will either levy a tax on private pensions on the grounds that the pensions have accumulated tax-deferred, or the government will require pension fund managers to purchase Treasury debt with our pensions. This will buy the government a bit more time while pension accounts are loaded up with worthless paper.

The last Bush budget deficit (2008) was in the $400-500 billion range, about the size of the Chinese, Japanese, and OPEC trade surpluses with the US. Traditionally, these trade surpluses have been recycled to the US and finance the federal budget deficit. In 2009 and 2010 the federal deficit jumped to $1,400 billion, a back-to-back trillion dollar increase. There are not sufficient trade surpluses to finance a deficit this large. From where comes the money?

The answer is from individuals fleeing the stock market into “safe” Treasury bonds and from the bankster bailout, not so much the TARP money as the Federal Reserve’s exchange of bank reserves for questionable financial paper such as subprime derivatives. The banks used their excess reserves to purchase Treasury debt.

These financing maneuvers are one-time tricks. Once people have fled stocks, that movement into Treasuries is over. The opposition to the bankster bailout likely precludes another. So where does the money come from the next time?

The Treasury was able to unload a lot of debt thanks to “the Greek crisis,” which the New York banksters and hedge funds multiplied into “the euro crisis.” The financial press served as a financing arm for the US Treasury by creating panic about European debt and the euro. Central banks and individuals who had taken refuge from the dollar in euros were panicked out of their euros, and they rushed into dollars by purchasing US Treasury debt.

This movement from euros to dollars weakened the alternative reserve currency to the dollar, halted the dollar’s decline, and financed the massive US budget deficit a while longer.

Possibly the game can be replayed with Spanish debt, Irish debt, and whatever unlucky country swept in by the thoughtless expansion of the European Union.

But when no countries remain that can be destabilized by Wall Street investment banksters and hedge funds, what then finances the US budget deficit?

The only remaining financier is the Federal Reserve. When Treasury bonds brought to auction do not sell, the Federal Reserve must purchase them. The Federal Reserve purchases the bonds by creating new demand deposits, or checking accounts, for the Treasury. As the Treasury spends the proceeds of the new debt sales, the US money supply expands by the amount of the Federal Reserve’s purchase of Treasury debt.

Do goods and services expand by the same amount?  Imports will increase as US jobs have been offshored and given to foreigners, thus worsening the trade deficit.  When the Federal Reserve purchases the Treasury’s new debt issues, the money supply will increase by more than the supply of domestically produced goods and services. Prices are likely to rise.

How high will they rise? The longer money is created in order that government can pay its bills, the more likely hyperinflation will be the result.

The economy has not recovered. By the end of this year it will be obvious that the collapsing economy means a larger than $1.4 trillion budget deficit to finance. Will it be $2 trillion? Higher?

Whatever the size, the rest of the world will see that the dollar is being printed in such quantities that it cannot serve as reserve currency. At that point wholesale dumping of dollars will result as foreign central banks try to unload a worthless currency.

The collapse of the dollar will drive up the prices of imports and offshored goods on which Americans are dependent. Wal-Mart shoppers will think they have mistakenly gone into Neiman Marcus.

Domestic prices will also explode as a growing money supply chases the supply of goods and services still made in America by Americans.

The dollar as reserve currency cannot survive the conflagration. When the dollar goes the US cannot finance its trade deficit. Therefore, imports will fall sharply, thus adding to domestic inflation and, as the US is energy import-dependent, there will be transportation disruptions that will disrupt work and grocery store deliveries.

Panic will be the order of the day.

Will farms will be raided? Will those trapped in cities resort to riots and looting?

Is this the likely future that “our” government and “our patriotic” corporations have created for us?

To borrow from Lenin, “What can be done?”

Here is what can be done. The wars, which benefit no one but the military-security complex and Israel’s territorial expansion, can be immediately ended. This would reduce the US budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars per year.  More hundreds of billions of dollars could be saved by cutting the rest of the military budget, which in its present size, exceeds the budgets of all the serious military powers on earth combined.

US military spending reflects the unaffordable and unattainable crazed neoconservative  goal of US Empire and world hegemony. What fool in Washington thinks that China is going to finance US hegemony over China?

The only way that the US will again have an economy is by bringing back the offshored jobs. The loss of these jobs impoverished Americans while producing over-sized gains for Wall Street, shareholders, and corporate executives. These jobs can be brought home where they belong by taxing corporations according to where value is added to their product. If value is added to their goods and services in China, corporations would have a high tax rate. If value is added to their goods and services in the US, corporations would have a low tax rate..

This change in corporate taxation would offset the cheap foreign labor that has sucked jobs out of America, and it would rebuild the ladders of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society.

If the wars are not immediately stopped and the jobs brought back to America, the US is relegated to the trash bin of history.

Obviously, the corporations and Wall Street would use their financial power and campaign contributions to block any legislation that would reduce short-term earnings and bonuses by bringing jobs back to Americans. Americans have no greater enemies than Wall Street and the corporations and their prostitutes in Congress and the White House.

The neocons allied with Israel, who control both parties and much of the media, are strung out on the ecstasy of Empire.

The United States and the welfare of its 300 million people cannot be restored unless the neocons, Wall Street, the corporations, and their servile slaves in Congress and the White House can be defeated.

Without a revolution, Americans are history.

In my short 20-year career in publishing, I have seen the evolution of the concept of copyright, and I don’t much like what is happening. Instead of being centered on protecting the author’s right to his own creation, it is becoming a profit-center for the publishers, who routinely charge exorbitant fees for simple fair-use quotations within another person’s work. The predictable effect is to lessen the use of quotations, and the longer term effect is going to be erosion of support for copyright as a concept.

We can hardly think of publishing without copyright, but Bucky Fuller reminded us that it originated as a royal grant of monopoly power. I — speaking as author and publisher — think we may have reached the point at which copyright is more harmful than helpful. Maybe it is time for us to invent a new form of protection of an author’s rights. Or maybe going bare would be no more harmful than the present system.

This article is from the German periodical Der Spiegel, via SchwartzReport.

No Copyright Law:

The Real Reason for Germany’s Industrial Expansion?

FRANK THADEUSZ – Der Spiegel (Germany)

Did Germany experience rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century due to an absence of copyright law? A German historian argues that the massive proliferation of books, and thus knowledge, laid the foundation for the country’s industrial might.

Read the rest of this entry »

When I received this column by Michael Ventura, my reaction was the same as it has been since I first stumbled upon his writings in 1986: I always want more. What an interesting life. What an interesting mind.

LETTERS AT 3AM –

JESUS WALKING THE PANHANDLE

Austin Chronicle – August 13, 2010

We lived in a caboose and a trailer near the cliff of a quarry by the Salt Fork of the Red River. Texas State Highway 70 ran by our – our what? Encampment? A caboose and a trailer all by their lonesome on rolling plains in the middle of nowhere. That stretch of 70 followed the trail of the cattle drives on their way from West Texas to the Kansas railhead at Dodge City. (Growing up on cowboy movies viewed in Brooklyn and the Bronx, this seemed to me one damned romantic fact.)

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From http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/17-2

Published on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 by TomDispatch.com

The Guns of August: Lowering the Flag on the American Century

by Chalmers Johnson

In 1962, the historian Barbara Tuchman published a book about the start of World War I and called it The Guns of August. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.  She was, of course, looking back at events that had occurred almost 50 years earlier and had at her disposal documents and information not available to participants. They were acting, as Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it, in the fog of war.

So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq?  Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless “targeted killings” which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations?  Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?

Read the rest of this entry »

If you can’t see that Ronald Reagan’s policies began a trend that has proved to be disastrous not only to the Middle Class but also (perhaps I should say therefore?) to the country, there is no hope for you. The richest one  per cent (1%) of the country owns nearly a quarter of the total wealth of the country (23.5% qualifies as nearly a quarter, you will concede) — up from 9% when Reagan came into office. This is not about skill or even greed, but about systemic imbalance.

This from Robert Reich’s blog http://robertreich.org/post/932556288/confessions-of-a-class-worrier

Confessions of a Class Worrier

By Robert Reich, Robert Reichs Blog

August 11, 2010

The decline of America’s middle class can be charted directly. In the three decades after World War II, the median wage (smack in the middle) grew rapidly, right along with productivity gains. Even as late as 1980, the richest 1 percent of Americans received only about 9 percent of the nation’s total income.

But starting in the 1980s – and increasingly since then – the economy has made the rich far richer without doing squat for the vast middle. The median hourly wage has barely grown, if you take inflation into account. Indeed, it dropped in the last so-called “recovery” between 2001 and 2007. And health-care and pension benefits have declined; we’ve gone from defined-benefit pensions to do-it-yourself pensions, while health insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-payments have skyrocketed.

Meanwhile, the rich have been getting a larger and larger portion of total income. From 9 percent in 1980, the top 1 percent’s take has increased to 23.5 percent in 2007. CEOs who in the 1970s took home 40 times the compensation of average workers now rake in 350 times. Financiers who forty years ago made only modest fortunes today, even after the Great Recession they helped bring on, routinely earn seven and eight-figures. In 2009, when most of the nation’s middle class was deep in recession, the 25 best-paid hedge-fund managers took in an average of $1 billion each. (Their marginal income tax, by the way, was barely over 17 percent, while the typical family paid a marginal tax far higher.)

What happened? It wasn’t just greed. It was also the systematic and ever cleverer manipulation of laws and rules by those able to pay lobbyists, legislators, lawyers, accountants to do their bidding. As income and wealth have risen to the top, so has the power to manipulate the system in order to acquire even more money and more influence.

To be sure, globalization and technological change have bestowed gains disproportionately on those with the education and connections to benefit most from them, while burdening Americans without the education and connections most needed.

But instead of enlarging the circle of prosperity so that the vast middle class could come out winners as well – instead of strengthening trade unions, improving public education, deepening public investments, enlarging safety nets, and making the tax system more progressive – the nation took direction from those at the top, and did the opposite.

It is not surprising America’s middle class is increasingly frustrated and are venting their anger – at politicians, the leaders of big business and Wall Street, as well as global traders, immigrants, and others who are easy targets of resentment.

A politics of audacious hope has turned into a politics of fear – meaner spirited than at any time in recent memory.

I’m not a class warrior. Call me a class worrier.

Our choice in the years ahead is either demagoguery that turns Americans further against one another and the rest of the world, or genuine reform that enlarges shared prosperity. It is the responsibility of all of us to fight the former and work toward the latter. (Pause for commercial announcement: In my forthcoming book, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future,” I discuss this choice in detail.)

Open Article On Originating Site

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including “The Work of Nations,” “Locked in the Cabinet,” and his most recent book, “Supercapitalism.” His “Marketplace” commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.

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